Mirror-head musician, puppeteer singer: Watch how Dubai Metro stations are coming to life this week

Twenty local, regional and international musicians to take part in the week-long celebration of global music

Follow us on Google News-khaleejtimes


Lamya Tawfik

Published: Tue 7 Mar 2023, 9:11 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Mar 2023, 10:34 AM

If travelling by Dubai Metro is part of your daily commute, then give yourself some extra time this week and stop at one of five stations hosting innovative musicians and performers.

Twenty musicians and performing artists from the UAE and around the world are participating in the Dubai Metro Music Festival, which started on Monday, March 6 and will continue till Sunday, March 12. Their acts are unique and highly entertaining, which made commuters who usually rush through the exit, pause to enjoy the beats with others as they recorded the moments with their phones.

The festival includes a variety of genres, and all musicians will take turns visiting the five stations: Union, Mall of Emirates, Burjuman, Dubai Financial Centre, and Sobha Realty.

The Dubai Metro Music Festival is organized by the creative arm of the Government of Dubai Media Office, Brand Dubai in collaboration with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

Malaysian UAE resident Cash Lim said that the festival was reminiscent of European street performers. “It adds a lot of soul to public areas like this. It’s my first time witnessing this in Dubai, and I’m excited. A station is a transient place, giving people a chance to connect and enjoy art,” she said.

Naveen Taneja, an Indian resident, said that he plans to see all the musicians throughout the week. “I was born and raised in Delhi, and I never thought I’d love a city more. I love it here! Dubai is the best city in the world!” he exclaimed after enthusiastically applauding a percussionist.


The event is part of the ongoing #DubaiDestinations campaign focused on highlighting the exceptional experiences, events and activities of #DubaiArtSeason. This year’s event is dedicated to the theme of sustainability in line with the UAE’s announcement of 2023 as the ‘Year of Sustainability’. A number of musicians will showcase their talent using instruments made from recycled materials.

French mirror-head musician

Isabelle Clarençon aka Mab'ish
Isabelle Clarençon aka Mab'ish

In a unique music act, Isabelle Clarençon, aka Mab'ish, from France, dons a mirror on her face before she starts to play. Visitors can see their reflections when she performs.

Her live music performance, "Opio", includes dreamlike movements mixed with piano, jazz, house and broken beat. It also has an interactive element with the audience.

"I learned that in some African cultures, they put mirrors in the house because they believe they look back and connect with their ancestors," said Isabelle." />

"This is my first time here in Dubai. I'm really enjoying it," said Isabelle, who is a professional dancer and DJ. She said her 'mirror character' reflects a trip into time because one can go into a different time dimension through the mirror.

"I learned that in some African cultures, they put mirrors in the house because they believe they look back and connect with their ancestors," said Isabelle.

Young Emirati musician plays piano and electric guitar

Eman Alraeesi
Eman Alraeesi

Eman Alraeesi, a young Emirati pianist and electric guitarist, participated in the Dubai Metro Music Festival as well and shared her talent with commuters.

“I want to encourage other Emirati women so that they can show their talent and represent the UAE with their talent. I’m sure there are many women with musical talents, but they wouldn’t show it. I want to inspire them,” she said, adding that she plays songs from different countries so that people from many nationalities can enjoy her music. “Music is a shared language that connects us all.”

She also said that one of the reasons why she wanted to participate with her electric guitar is to change the perception of the instrument, which is seen as being ‘aggressive’. “I want to show people we can create anything with the electric guitar. You can make your own music, and you don’t have to follow a certain style; you just create your own, and that’s what will make you unique as a musician,” she added.

A folk Indian beat boxer

Divyansh Kacholia
Divyansh Kacholia

Divyansh Kacholia and his partner Manuraj won India’s Got Talent in 2022 (Season 9) and got a standing ovation from the judges for his incredible beatboxing skills. But it isn’t like any other beatboxing; Divyansh is the first folk Indian beatboxer.

“The beatboxing that I do is inspired by Indian rhythms and folk culture, by our classical and Indian folk music and by instruments like the dholak and table,” he said, adding that Indian music is meditative and is linked to spirituality. “Our music is culturally very rich, so I use it in my performances,” he explained.

Divyansh said that even though he has earned more fame, especially after participating in America’s Got Talent All Stars show earlier this year, he has never performed in a metro station. “I came here because I wanted to challenge myself. It’s a new territory for me. I perform in concerts and come to Dubai every second month, but to perform in a metro station: it’s very raw and very organic. People cheer you and respect what you do,” he said.

Late Egyptian singer brought to stage

Mohamed Fawzi Bakkar, an Egyptian puppeteer thrilled commuters by his puppet’s ‘stage’ which featured famous Egyptian singer Umm Kolthoum and members of her band. He then played her songs and moved her puppet, which greatly resembles the late singer, with precision to the lyrics.

Mohamed builds his marionettes from scratch in his workshop in Cairo, where he creates and designs puppets that reflect Egyptian life and culture. He said that he hopes to revive the traditional art of puppeteering.

He has performed in the UAE in the past, but it is his first time performing at the Dubai Metro Music Festival. “It was great to see so many people interacting and singing along,” he said.

Fun beats from Cuba

Ernesto Vidal is no stranger to the Dubai music scene. He has just finished performing at the Dubai International Boat Show. He is a drummer and percussionist from Cuba. “Before coming to the UAE, I used to play primarily Latin music, but Dubai is such a mixed bag of cultures, so I started playing more music from around the world: Arabic, gospel, Russian and fusion.

“I’m always open to learning new things and for new experiences,” he said, adding that it is his first time to perform in a metro station. “People still put up their phones to take pictures and videos, but at least there’s no smoke,” he said, laughing.


More news from Entertainment